Greater amberjack

December 10th, 2009

Seriola dumerili, commonly known as the greater amberjack was sighted in Guernsey. This is the first recording of this fish in Guernsey and it is uncommon to Britain. Seriola dumerili are blue or greenish in adults with a silvery white belly and sides. Sometimes, they have a brown or pinkish tinge. The juveniles are between 2 and 17 cm in length and have five dark body bars which split vertically across their body. The maximum recorded size for Seriola dumerili is 188 cm in length although it is common for them to grow up to 110 cm. The greater Amberjack is carnivorous and feed on other fishes and some invertebrates.

Photo of Seriola dumerili here

The goose barnacle, Conchoderma virgatum was also sighted.

Photo: Steve Trewhella

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Discoveries in July

July 29th, 2009

Discoveries this month have included a Slipper Lobster on the Isles of Scilly and a White Sea Bream found on Guernsey.

In the Mouls channel between little Innisvouls and Mouls, in the eastern Isles of Scilly, a slipper lobster was caught in a lobster pot at a depth of 14m.

A White Sea Bream (Diplodus sargus) was caught as part of a shoal of visually similar fish. It is the first White Sea Bream to have been caught and reported in Guernsey.

Click for photo of Diplodus sargus

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Rare sighting of sea bream in UK

January 29th, 2009

An unusual report for the British Isles is the Two-banded Sea Bream which has been sighted off Guernsey’s north coast. The sea bream, Diplodus vulgaris, has an oblong body that can grow to 45 cm although they usually reach 20-25 cm. They are generally grey, brownish or greenish in colour with a broad black band. These fish are carnivores and feed on crustaceans and molluscs.

Click for photo of Diplodus vulgaris

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Chameleon prawns

December 2nd, 2008

Chameleon prawns (Hippolyte varians) have been sighted in Studland, Dorset. Hippolyte varians is a small prawn, up to 3.2 cm in length and is widely variable in colour, hence its name, from red to brown through to green or transparent with red or yellow blotches. Hippolyte varians uses this variable colouring as camouflage during the day but turn a blue-green colour at night independent of their habitat.

Photo: Steve Trewhella

A Ray’s Bream was discovered, also known as the Atlantic pomfret (Brama brama) in a rock pool at West Runton, Norfolk. The fish was approximately 50cm long from nose to tail.

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Brown venus, fish parasite and jewelbox sighted

March 18th, 2008

Photo: Dave Jarvis

The bivalve Callista chione, also known as the brown venus, was found stranded on a beach in Hayle, Cornwall. Callista chione is an uncommon species in Britain although it is found in South-West England and the Channel Islands. It is a large oval shell that can grow up ton 9cm in length. The outer shell is a reddish-brown colour with darker streaks and the inner shell is an off white colour.

Photo: Steve Trewhella

This isopod, Gnathia maxillaris was also found this month. Gnathia maxillaris is a small isopod; up to 5mm in length and male, female and juvenile Gnathia maxillaris are significantly different in their appearance. The one pictured is a Juvenile. They can usually be found in crevices, empty barnacle shells and Laminaria holdfasts. Around 100 embryos develop inside the body of the female before being released as larvae or Zupheae where they become fish parasites. The usually attach to the bodies of; the Shanny (Lipophrys pholis), the Long-spined Sea Scorpion (Taurulus bubalis) and the Corkwing Wrasse (Symphodus melops). They leave the fish host after a blood meal, their thoracic region expanded and become Pranizae larvae. Not much is known about the adult Gnathia maxillaris but it is believed that they do not feed.

Photo: Steve Trewhella

Found in a fish box in Chesil was the shell Pseudochama gryphina, known as a jewelbox. The first of this species recorded in the UK.

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Sea snail found depositing eggs and boar fish sighted

February 26th, 2008

Lamellaria have been found depositing eggs in Guernsey and Boar fish have been reported in Jersey and Dorset.

On Guernsey’s east coast, Belle Greve Bay, Lamellaria were found excavating holes in ascidians in order to deposit their eggs. Lamellaria has a shell of 10mm length and the animal can grow up to 20mm. This slug-like mollusc varies in colour; yellow, grey or lilac and often with coloured flecks of yellow, black or white. Lamellaria have internal shells enclosed by a mantle which is covered in tubercles. Lamellaria feeds on ascidians and lays their eggs in capsules deposited in holes eaten out of the ascidians by the female. Each flask-like capsule is holds up to 3000 eggs!

In Jersey and Kimmeridge bay, Dorset, Boar fish or Capros aper have been sighted. Capros aper is an oval fish, growing up to 30cm in size. They vary in colour from brick-red for individuals from deep water (200m or more), sometimes with yellow bars, to a yellow-straw coloured fish in shallower waters. It has small, rough scales and feeds on molluscs and crustaceans.

Click here to see pictures of the Lamellaria and Capros aper.

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Unusual sightings in July

August 1st, 2007

Despite reduced numbers of sightings this month, perhaps due to the bad weather, there have been some interesting things sighted, including the Dustbin Lid Jellyfish, caught off the Yorkshire coast, a Cuckoo Wrasse sighted in the St Abbs VMCA, a first for the VMCA and a very unusual record for the East coast, and the nationally scarce Glaucus Pimplet anemone, spotted in North Devon.

The dustbin lid jellyfish, Rhizostoma octopus, is usually found on the southern and western coasts of Britain. The jellyfish is solid in appearance and has a dome shaped bell. Its colour varies from a whitish colour to pale shades of green, blue, pink or brown. In mature Rhizostoma octopus, the Gonads (sex organs) for males are blue in colour and reddish-brown in females. Rhizostoma octopus feed on microscopic planktonic organisms and often, the large crustacean Hyperia galba can be found within the body of the jellyfish.

The cuckoo wrasse (Labrus mixtus) is up to 35cm in length for the males and up to 30cm for the females. The functional (older) males are coloured orange-red with a blue striped head and back while non-functional (young) males and females are pink to orange-red with the females having black and white blotches on their lower back.

Glaucus Pimplet (Anthopleura thallia) is a sea anemone that is rare in the UK. The column grows tall, up to 50mm, the anemone varying in colour; green, brown or grey, sometimes with a reddish overcast. The anemone has up to 100 tentacles of moderate length.

The gales in the last week of July also brought in some unusual pelagic species including an unusual form of goose barnacle found in Dorset and North-West Ireland. Has anyone else found anything unusual washed in?

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